Rurality and the professional development of university teachers
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This study forms part of a wider NRF project that sought to examine the enabling and constraining conditions in the uptake of professional development opportunities by academics as teachers at eight South African universities. This case study isolated two rurally-based, historically disadvantaged South African institutions (HDIs). Qualitative data from institutional self-evaluation reports were augmented with semi-structured interviews conducted with five members of the senior management and ten academics at each of the institutions. Thematic analysis of the data revealed constraints around promotion policy and the value accorded to research development over teaching development, the inability of rural institutions to attract and retain staff, as well as the huge workloads that consumed time that could have been used for professional development. The study recommends reconsideration of theoretical frameworks that inform professional development in rural universities and a re-look at practicalities in the modes of delivery when planning for professional development interventions in rural settings.